You’re smart. Now get smarter.
Smarter Artist Summit

The Smarter Artist Summit was held at the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas

April 26 & 27, 2017


Really? You’re still reading?

Come on. You’re rockin’ this writing thing.

You tell stories. You teach awesome stuff. You entertain, you inspire, you inform.

Writing is your super-power.

Whether you’re starting your first book or have just published your thirtieth, you’re a working artist, fueled by your vision.

But when you look around, you see a bunch of people who just don’t “get” you.

Maybe you dread Aunt Mabel’s question, “How’s your little writing thing going?”  Or the baffled stares from your critique group when you say you don’t want a New York agent, because you’re smart enough to crave creative control and better royalties.

Unfortunately, it can get lonely, being an indie author. Outsiders don’t understand. Even worse, they look down their noses (probably while they’re making a spot for their Man Booker prize in their new home in a box under a bridge somewhere). They don’t get that a writer can make a great living … if they’re your kind of smart.

But you’re not alone. There are artists who get you.

Smarter Artists.



Next spring, 240 writers just like you will descend on Austin, Texas for two days of next-level learning. Two days of sharing exactly what works and what doesn’t. Two days spent exploring the future of publishing and discovering the secrets to finding rabid fans.

At the Smarter Artist Summit, hosted by authors and industry leaders Sean Platt, David W. Wright, and Johnny B. Truant, you’ll be among writers who believe in abundance. Writers who passionately learn and compulsively share. Writers who toss around wild ideas, engage in bold new experiments, and share their failures and the hard won lessons to keep you from making the same mistakes. And who sing some mean karaoke.

Sure, we have a great lineup of speakers (we’ll tell you more about them below). But the big payoff of the Smarter Artist Summit is the other smarter artists you’ll meet.

At the 2016 Summit, we hosted writers from right around the corner and halfway across the globe. We got to know non-fiction authors and novelists. Horror and romance writers sat shoulder to shoulder. Veterans encouraged novices. Everyone contributed to the community.

We’re all super-heroes at the Smarter Artist Summit. You belong with us.

Join us on April 26 and 27, 2017 for the annual Smarter Artist Summit at the JW Marriott in Austin Texas.



Who’s Gonna Be There?

Unlike conferences that use big-name speakers to draw as many people through the doors as possible, we believe in cultivating a community of Smarter Artists who believe in abundance and who cheer each other on.

We also believe in introducing you to the voices who might not have the biggest platforms, but who have fresh, smart perspectives on how you can get smarter, faster.


jenna-soard-1024x789Jenna Soard has traveled the planet designing, teaching, and making piles of bank for her clients (including Nike). And now she’s an entrepreneur with a passion to help creatives brand themselves like pros.

A former university professor with a degree in Multimedia Design and an MBA in Marketing, you might expect her to be a bit stiff. But there’s no tweed in Jenna’s suitcase. She’ll always choose adventure, moving from Portland to Tokyo — or wherever she can find a fantastic AirBnB to call home.


david-gaughranDavid Gaughran is Irish and lives in Dublin, where it rains every day and conversation is a sport. He is the author of the popular self-publishing guide Let’s Get Digital and the ground-breaking marketing guide Let’s Get Visible – which decoded the Amazon algorithms for the first time and showed writers how to tweak their marketing campaigns to capitalize on the Kindle Store’s powerful recommendation engine.

David is also the author of the historical novels Liberty Boy, Mercenary, and A Storm Hits Valparaiso, and spends much of his time shining light on the shadowy underbelly of the publishing establishment for the good of authors everywhere.


lowres-kalvin-004-682x1024Kalvin Chinyere, M.D. M.B.A., grew up reading comics and dreaming of being a new kind of superhero. His parents were convinced that being a doctor was superhero enough, but Dr. Kal never forgot or abandoned his childhood dreams.

Over the years, those dreams transformed into a desire to promote new heroes, particularly African-American male heroes — through story and in the community through intentional entrepreneurship.

His debut novel, Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin, reimagines Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic, featuring strong characters who break out of the old stereotypes.


christinelowres-002-682x1024If technology and creativity got married and had a baby, it’d be Christine. And she loves helping people get things done.

She spent over twenty years in business, global project management, and marketing positions before ripping off the corporate veil to be a writer. But smart business is still the blood in her veins.

She’s worked with authorpreneurs over the past four years, helping them to build and launch over a million dollars’ worth of books and courses, all while getting up at the ass-crack of dawn to write stories of horrible people doing terrible things to each other.


clark-headshot-01-e1476907911971Clark Chamberlain may not be the most interesting man in the world, but you definitely might think so after you meet him. He’s lived on two continents, fought in the Iraq war, built homes in the shadows of the Tetons, edited a thriller between live artillery fire missions, and tore his lunch cooler from the mouth of a bear.

His passions have taken him around the world and back again. Along the way he discovered his purpose in the power of story. Clark’s story expertise in fiction is evident in his books, his teaching, and his superb developmental editing, but Clark is also working in nonfiction to help people break free of the negative stories holding them back.


chris-foxChris Fox is a former software developer and full-time author who’s found the “formula” for indie success: find a genre you love AND that readers are climbing over each other to read.

And because he’s a generous dude, he’s shared his author-success-wizardry in Write to Market and 5,000 Words Per Hour. He’s sold over ninety thousand books in less than two years, and wants to teach you to do the same.



Got Questions?

What does the ticket price include?
The ticket price includes admission to the event — two full days of information from our brilliant speakers and connections with the most motivated Smarter Artists on the planet.

We’ll have killer amenities like chairs and air. We might even have water so you don’t shrivel to the size of a banana chip during the event.

Oh. And there are bathrooms. Like indoors. And for those of you who were with us last year … there are MORE THAN TWO TOILETS. (Yeah, for real!)

So what does the ticket price not include?
It does not include use of a helper monkey during the event. It does not include skateboarding lessons or a free unicorn tattoo. It also does not include meals, parking, travel or lodging expenses, or any add-on workshops.

Are there Sponsors for the Summit?

We *only* have accepted sponsorship from companies we already use and love. It’s crazy important that we not appear to endorse anyone we can’t actually stand behind. That said, you may see the Draft2Digital around at the Summit. We’ve worked with them for years and are thrilled to partner with them for this event!

How do I get to the hotel/around town?
Austin is located on Earth, where standard modes of transportation are fairly consistent.

We do allow cars in Austin, whether it’s your own, one you’ve rented, or one you’ve hired for an individual ride (however, we do have some unique regulations which means Uber and Lyft don’t operate here. Instead use Fasten, Fare, or an old fashioned taxi.)

You can also ride a unicycle, a pogo stick, or simply use your feet (and join the SA fitbit group). It’s really not that deep, y’all.

Where should I stay?
I hear there are still spots to lay out a sleeping bag under the Bat Bridge.

Yes, the actual hotel is luxurious, but no one is required to stay there. In fact, they were only able to offer us a very small block of rooms, so it’s likely that most people won’t be able to stay there.

There’s a wide range of nearby options for nearly every budget. We are reasonably confident in your ability to use the Internet and a map to find something that will work for you.

What about sharing rooms?
We’re all introverts, and we can’t possibly imagine spending even one more hot minute around humans after a day of peopleing. But if you like being around other humans (or you just care about your budget), you’re not alone.

Once you’ve picked up your ticket, you’ll get an invitation to an attendees-only Facebook group, where you can meet other insane extroverts who are looking for even more people-time. We can’t manage the coordination of room sharing or guarantee that one of y’all isn’t a finger licker, but if you’re willing to take the risk, well, we’ll give you a forum to connect.

What’s the parking situation? Because last year, I almost died having to ride shuttles with everyone else.
Welp, here’s the deal. Austin is full of cars. And people. But mostly cars (including cars that drive themselves. Noah Fucking West.).

Knowing this, the friendly folks at the JW Marriott built a kick-ass parking garage. Only issue is that parking garages cost money to build and maintain, so they kinda don’t let people in without a mandatory donation. Or more accurately, they don’t let your car back out without a few bucks.

But at least you won’t have to ride a shuttle bus with a bunch of crazy writers. I mean, who wants to do that?!

Volunteers / How can I help?
Wear shoes in Dave’s presence.

Watch your email for a call for help a little closer to event time. The venue will be providing minions, so we don’t anticipate the same intense setup/teardown needs we had last year, but Amy will certainly need someone to rub her feet.

Refund/cancellation policy
Tickets are non-refundable, but they are transferrable. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, you’re welcome to bequeath your ticket to your favorite survivor. Just make sure to let us know before you turn feral.

Are we selling video / audio recording?
Um, then why would you come? Really…why?

But seriously, no. The magic is in being in the room where it happens.

Can I be an asshole?
Well, we have a very strict “one-asshole” rule, and Dave has already claimed the spot. You can fight him for it, but you will lose. But you’re here and still reading, so you’re probably not a jerk anyway.

So pretty much no, you can’t — because you aren’t like that anyway. Besides, the Smarter Artist community is worth protecting, so if you’re a douche, Amy will light you on fire (or someone will do it for her because we all love her THAT MUCH).

Will you have vegan/gluten-free/paleo/treenutfree/legumefree/grainfree/sugarfree snacks? All organic sweeteners? almondmilk/soymilk/soyfree/dairyfree/chemicalfree creamer for coffee?
Christine is still waiting for all-natural, organic Diet Dr. Pepper. Until that’s available, we’ll have water, coffee, tea, and a variety of snacks, but we can’t accommodate everything. If you have special dietary needs, you might want to tuck something in your bag.

Will you pre-chew my snacks for me?
Absolutely. Just flag Amy down and she’ll take care of you like a bird-mama.

Can we plan a meet-up??
No. No one is allowed to speak to anyone else without Amy’s direct supervision. Ever.

But seriously, go for it. There will be a lot going on, and we love it when the community organizes fun and unique ways to connect. We can’t keep track of it all, but feel free to reach out in the Facebook group and plan/organize to your heart’s content.

How should I say hi to Dave?
Establish (brief) eye contact from a distance, then begin your approach with your arm slightly raised in a pre-fist-bump position, to signify that you do not intend to initiate a full handshake or hug. Keep your interaction to a minimum, knowing Dave would rather not be talking to you in the first place, and that there are now 10 more filthy people in line behind you.



Proof that Dave can be successfully hugged, if approached correctly (like a hippogriff):




Need more convincing?

Here are just a few things SAS2016 attendees had to say:


Meeting industry names (you only hear about) and getting close friends and stories that you never dreamed possible. Finding, for once in my life, that I was part of a ‘tribe’ of like minded people. It was home in a heartbeat.

-Michael Anderle


I made the most incredible in-person connections with people I only knew “by name” (and admired from afar). Of course I learned a lot, but it was hanging with “my peeps” I enjoyed the most.

-Honoree Corder


I loved meeting an entirely new group of author professionals that I did not know existed. I expected a few gems but found a gold mine.

-Ben Hale

(Note: Ben Hale learned and recited the name of every single person in the room, and it wasn’t just a parlor trick. He actually likes people THAT MUCH!)


Being around other like-minded, positive, creative people is the main reason to go. It’s the best conference I’ve ever attended because the people in the audience were every bit as amazing as the speakers at the front of the room. And it goes deeper than that. When I arrived, I didn’t know anyone, so I was surrounded by strangers. By the time the Summit ended, I was surrounded by friends. The quality of the community that’s grown around the SAS is the best I’ve ever experienced.

-Gary Jonas


My FB newsfeed got a lot more upbeat. It was so refreshing to meet others who were actually out there trying to make cool things happen. That really helped cut through all of the political posts and bad news. SAS is good for your mental health.

-Danielle Corley


I knew a few attendees “virtually” but I’d never met anyone there in person. By the time I left I’d made business connections, but–more importantly–I’d connected with fellow writers who I still keep in touch with today. I’ve been to a lot of writing conferences and genre fan conventions. SAS is the warmest, most welcoming of them all.

-Sara Rosett


Getting the romance gang together in person and then forming a FB group where we can share and be accountable, support each other and kick ass, has been awesome for me, given in Thailand I don’t come across a lot of romance authors (!).

-Ellen Bard


The feeling in the room was electric but friendly. I appreciated being at an event that wasn’t a rehash of the stale self-pub advice we’ve heard elsewhere. The SAS speakers shared their results but also challenged us to think of new ways to publish and reach audiences. At the same time, while innovation and thinking big were a dual focus, everything seemed accessible…I assumed it would address indie authors at an intermediate-to-advanced stage, but met quite a few folks who hadn’t published yet.

-Shannon Morgan


I have a few things that might be helpful for potential attendees who are just starting out—or would have to fly in from another country:

It‘s great if you‘re living in a place where indie publishing isn‘t as advanced as it is in the States. In my case, suddenly this whole endeavor of indie publishing started to look like a real career option. I began to take it a lot more seriously and spend more time on it. Also, I felt that I finally found a community I really fit into.

You can form connections who can help you on the way (accountability partners, editors, cover designers…). And since you‘re meeting these people in person and make friends with them, the whole issue of trust (that‘s always a biggie for me when I‘m working with contractors) goes out of the window.

If you‘re just starting out, you‘ll be putting yourself in the company of people who are further along the way than you are, and that can only benefit you. You‘ll learn so much by mere osmosis, just through spending time with your fellow attendees and listening to them. It might feel good to be the smartest person in the room, but it doesn‘t help you grow your skills, so I think you should always put yourself in the company of people who are better than you are at what you’re trying to accomplish.

Last but not least: You just have to experience the admirable hospitality of Texans. I had more people buying me drinks or even whole meals in the 10 days I spent in Austin than I had in the last 10 years combined. Wherever I went, just about everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful.

-Jan Schlösser


I got more out of the community and meeting people then I did from the actual presenters. I don’t know how you would market that or try to enhance that next year but the community is what really made the SAS special.

The presenters and that content was kinda of just icing on something really awesome. Obviously Sterling & Stone set the tone and has fostered the community so that it could be what it is and if you market anything to those on the fence it really should be the community.

It’s just nice to be around people who are creative and have been where you are. It’s nice to listen to their stories and hear what has worked for them and what hasn’t. It was nice to talk to people who make time to create the things they want to create instead of talking to people who just talk about doing but never do.

It was also a kick in the butt. Going and seeing all these other people who are DO-ERS was shocking. It was a room filled with like 99.4% people who get stuff done. I was so impressed by the determination and commitment that other authors put into their work. It made me want to work harder.

-Scott King




*Photo credits: Scott King